Make do and mend

As you may have guessed I love history 🙂 most periods fascinate me but obviously I have my particular passions such as medieval and Tudor. One area that I have been very much interested in over the last few years is World War Two, partly inspired by reading but also as we have gone multiperiod events over the years I have loved visiting the camps of these re-enactors.

Some years ago I started re-purposing material in different ways, making pouches out of old jeans, quilting and patchwork and started to think more about that whole area of reusing things. I have also acquired lots of lovely textiles from the 40s and 50s through my charity shop finds.

So when Ellie said that Clumber were having a WW2 weekend this summer to pay homage to Clumber’s involvement with the making of a trench digging machine I really wanted to be involved somehow. I loved being a WW1 Land girl last summer so I have volunteered to put on a little display of the Make do and Mend campaign.

Make do and mend

For those of you who are not aware this was a government campaign linked to the introduction of rationing, specifically when clothing coupons were introduced and people were encouraged to use textiles they already had in creative ways.

I am basing my character on the lovely Nella Last who I mentioned in my last post. Nella wrote diaries for the Mass Observation Archive all throughout the war and beyond so we have a really detailed account of her life and she often mentions textile work. I loved both the books of her diaries and the film so have decided that I will portray a WI woman who is giving information and advice of the sort that Nella would have encountered. These pictures below show Nella with her son and husband, I love the embroidered top she is wearing in the picture with her son.

Nella Last and son

 

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I have got some wonderful reproductions of the advice leaflets, featuring Mrs Sew and Sew, I intend to separate these from their books for my table top display.

Mrs Sew and Sew

Make do and mend books 1

I have also been doing some research on fashion for me. I need to create an outfit suitable for a middle aged WI woman, a sensible flat shoed but still interested in fashion enough to want to wear nice things kind of person who is passionate about sewing and wants to pass on her skills.I have found this site, Vintage Dancer, very helpful. I have even found someone who made a dress out of tablecloths like my jacket!

Most of this will involve charity shop repurposing as I am good at that and using men’s garments to make women’s clothes was a great source of fabric so I am on the look out for suitable starting items. I also need a hat as I think my lady would have been a great hat wearer. Plus I love hats 🙂

The event takes place in early June but we are going to an event a bit beforehand as well as visitors so need to have something sorted by mid May.So that will keep me out of mischief considering I am away for three weeks over Easter and only get back at the end of April. Thankfully WW2 things are a lot easier to make than medieval!

I have done very little crafting since I last posted, I have been so busy with a very hectic but lovely  week at work where we took the students out to do some activities and had a conference so there have been a lot of early bedtimes for me. I have managed another Barbie dress this Sunday and am still knitting. I will attempt some more finishing this weekend but I am working this Saturday again so time is limited.

I hope you are having a lovely week so far, time seems to really be flying this year, can’t believe we are only 3 weeks away from the end of term and the little matter of a large amount of doctorate needing to be submitted 😮

Take care whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

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The miracles of blocking

I have been very productive with my knitting, this pile below looks slightly less impressive when you know that it is all Barbie sized but I am still pleased as I have not knitted for a few years.

Barbie blocking 6

I love knitting but especially love knitting little things, some years ago I knitted thirteen of Julie’s wonderful animals and various dresses for them and would love to make some more of those again.

knitted bonnie-elephant-spain1

knitted sophie-and-daisy-bunnies1

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday blocking all the little pieces ready for sewing them all together, I am always amazed that a little bit of steam turns things from a curly mess to a lovely flat piece and had a happy time in my sewing room sorting all of these out.

Barbie blocking 1

Barbie blocking 2

I have so far knitted two jumpers and a coat, all from the old Barbie knitting patterns book that I have had since Ellie was little, and a shrug from this site. I am halfway through another coat in pink. The wool is a lot brighter turquoise than it looks in this picture.

Barbie blocking 3

Barbie blocking 4

Barbie blocking 5

I have only made one dress so far, this was very quick and easy from a tutorial at this site here.

Barbie shrug and dress 3

Barbie shrug and dress 2

Barbie shrug and dress 1

This is scrap material from a shirt I bought some years ago just for the fabric and I have used it in various things.One of the first was for this little appliqued bunny on the back of one of my very first quilts in 2010 that I donated to the children’s hospice.

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I do love making use of my scrap bin, fits in so well with my passions for recycling and making things out of little scraps! The great thing about having a blog as well is that I can track my uses of all of the fabric over the years.I have only just finished using bits of the offcuts from the quilt fabric and am down to the tiniest scraps now which are still appearing in pincushions like the one below.

pink-and-multi-cushion-1

The shirt material I used is slightly stretchy which was great for the top part of the dress. I just have to get some Velcro now and some cute pink ribbon for a belt. I am trying as far as possible to use stash but will allow myself a bit of haberdashery 😉

I am loving making these clothes, I have various little girls who have birthdays from May until August and there are always Christmas presents to consider so I might just make nothing else this year!

However I do have another longish term project coming up which I will tell you more about in another post. This is something inspired by this woman, Nella Last, played here by Victoria Wood in the film Housewife 49, and is going to form quite a big part of my summer in one way or another.

ITV ARCHIVE

 

More of that later, for now I shall be carrying on with using up all those lovely balls of wool that have been languishing neglected for years. I particularly love the variegated lilac one, some of my favourite colours.

Hope that you are all enjoying what you are doing this week, we have a nice week ahead at work with a couple of trips out with the students and then I have most of the weekend off which is very exciting as I have been teaching a lot of Saturdays just recently.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Getting creative with crochet

I had a very lovely crafting time with Ellie last weekend. When we were at the Whitby Steampunk event we did a lovely free workshop with Abigail from Curiously Contrary and each made a brooch using a textile hardener medium called Powertex.

Whitby 4

Ellie and I bought a starter kit and we had our first go at this new craft.You can make some beautiful things with it, I love this bronze lace bowl in this video.

Powertex 3

The medium needs to be painted onto textiles, it is PVA glue based and is quite sticky so we were advised to pour it onto a paper plate and use fingers or a brush to work it into the textile.

Powertex crafting 5

As you know I have a lovely collection of vintage crochet and as Abigail had used some of this to decorate the items she had on her stall at Whitby we decided to use those as our starting point. Ellie wanted to decorate some notebooks that she had bought and I wanted to make a new Steampunk hat for an event later in the year.

Powertex crafting 1

Powertex crafting 2

Powertex crafting 4

Once you have soaked your textile it takes about an hour to dry, you can speed this up with a hairdryer and then you can paint it.It is very therapeutic to do and we had a great time.

Powertex crafting 6

You can use powder pigments mixed with varnish or acrylic paints.We painted the pieces the following day when they had fully hardened. Here they are at the drying stage.

Powertex crafting 8

Powertex crafting 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can then use metallic highlights either in acrylic or powders to add sparkle to your design. Ellie completed two notebooks and a scrapbook, it is amazing how they go from being a dull brown which is the Powertex colour we had to looking so fantastic and colourful.

Powertex 1

 

Powertex 2

 

I am planning to add a little fabric tea cup to the lovely silver doily that will be on top of my hat for an, ‘everything stops for tea’, hat. The little crochet flowers will be around the side of the hat and I have ordered some more flower crowns from Ebay which I will take apart to give me some lovely blooms for the hat as well.

Powertex 4

Powertex 5

Powertex 6

Powertex 7

I found some inspiration for my tea cup on Pinterest, these lovely hats have been made by Play Things who did have an Etsy shop but is not trading at the moment. I love the creativity of these little hats and intend to use some tea motif fabric that I have had in my stash for a long time for the cup and saucer.

tea cup hat 2jpg

tea cup hat

I have had a productive couple of weeks in other areas as well, I went on a wonderful writing retreat with work and finished another 15,000 words of my doctorate and have knitted two Barbie jumpers, not yet sewn together but that is one of my tasks for tomorrow along with finishing off a knitted Barbie coat.

I hope that you have had a good couple of weeks, we have had beautiful weather here as well up until today so things have been very lovely. Hopefully next week I will be able to show you some of the completed Barbie garments.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Victorian Splendour

We had a very lovely time at Whitby Steampunk last weekend. The weather was good, a touch windy on Saturday so we were literally hanging onto our hats, at an event where everyone wears very fine hats no-one wanted theirs to end up in the sea 😦

The only bad thing in the whole weekend was that at some point on Sunday afternoon I lost my camera. Ellie and James very kindly retraced our steps all the way back up to the Pavillion on the cliff to see if they could find it but it was nowhere to be seen. I had taken lots of pictures of costume as well. Luckily James and Ellie took many of the same pictures of us and the scenery so I do have some to share with you thanks to them.

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Whitby 6

Whitby is a beautiful old seaside town, famous for being the place where the explorer Captain Cook worked and for being the setting for part of the Bram Stoker Dracula novel.

So I decided on a vampire hunter theme for Saturday’s outfit, I have already shown you then holy water bottle and I decorated my hat with crosses and a mini bible and had another cross and stake in my belt.You can’t see the black skirt very well here but it worked really well with the outfit and I also decorated a cheap umbrella with the same lace as the rest of the outfit.

Whitby 12

Whitby 13

The red coat is an adaptation of one I bought some years ago for medieval re-enactment and I shortened it and cut back the sleeves and added the lace.We spent a lot of time at the market which was brilliant, the best Steampunk market we have visited and lots of gin tasting and a really interesting workshop which I will post about later.

Whitby 14

Whitby 17

It was lovely and warm and I wore the other coat I have in purple on the Sunday with my pirate hat and purple skirt. I am going to adapt this one in the same way as the large fold back sleeves are lovely but do get in the way a bit! I think it was probably when I was sorting out the sleeves that I lost the camera.

Whitby 3

We also visited a costume exhibition by a company who make stage costumes, this gorgeous Victorian morning dress in black silk was one of my favourite pieces but the silk and jewelled Marahajah costume was also stunning and James and Kerry loved the owl!

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Whitby 11

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Ellie’s Worth dress, which I have previously posted about that she made from a pair of curtains, looked fantastic and she got lots of people stopping her to take pictures as we wandered around town.She is so creative to have made the whole thing without a pattern, she is going to make a hat to go with it for the Lincoln event later in the summer.

We found a lovely gin shop with the most gorgeous display of pink gins in the window and a fantastic tea room, the Monk’s Haven, which served gluten free scones so had a fab afternoon tea both days which made Ellie and I very happy 🙂

Whitby 15

Whitby 16

A really brilliant weekend, I just love wandering round and looking at all the costumes and seeing the amazing creativity. There are lots more pictures on the Whitby Steampunk Facebook  page here

It still feels slightly strange to be at an event all dressed up and not to have to do anything specific. I think that is part of why we all love it so much as we can just wander around, eat ice cream or drink tea and gin when we want to and generally get all the fun of dressing up without any of the rules of re-enactment. We doing really love doing that as well but at Steampunk events we don’t have to hide in the tent when it is cold and wet and have sneaky cups of tea!

I am busy knitting for Barbie at the moment. I have made the shrug but cannot show you that yet as she has nothing to wear it with. I have started a jumper as well from the old pattern book.I do like knitting such small things, I finished the back of the jumper in an evening 🙂

I am really looking forward to the week ahead, I am on a writing retreat with work and so am going to be spending four days here at Gladstone’s Library working on my doctorate. I went a few years ago and not only is it lovely to have peace and quiet to write but the food is wonderful so it is like staying at a luxury hotel as well.

Gladstones museum

So I shall be lovely and relaxed when I come home and hopefully will have written lots as well!There will be very little crafting done this week as I intend to spend the evenings in the lovely local pub with my colleagues which will be very nice, we rarely get time at work to talk so am looking forward to catching up with some of my old team as well.

Hope that you have a good week ahead, take care and thanks for visiting.

I’m a Barbie girl ….

Do you remember that very irritating song some years ago that started with this? I recall the lines about it being fantastic and plastic and it did remind me at the time of my own fun playing with Barbies as a child.

I loved making clothes and houses for Barbie when Ellie was little. I made an entire apartment out of cardboard boxes, including all of the furniture and we loved doing that together, visiting the DIY shop for large samples of wallpaper and using old carpet and fabric scraps.

I have decided to make some Barbie clothes as presents for the younger cousins this year as all of them have the dolls and enjoy playing with them but don’t have an extensive wardrobe. I am hoping I might be able to do a little bit of knitting for them as well, I have not knitted for ages but think my wrist would stand some small items.

I have bought myself a model for fitting purposes, she came from the local charity shop.I thought I might be able to make a pattern from the jeans she is wearing.

barbie model 1barbie model 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do have a knitting pattern book from ages ago and have been looking up some new resources which I thought I would share with you. You can see that the owner of my doll also had the same knitting book, the ski jumper is identical and look at those fab 1990s disco outfits. I am sure I had some jumpers that were very similar at the time!

barbie knitting pattern book 1

barbie knitting pattern book 2

barbie knitting pattern book 3

barbie knitting pattern book 4barbie knitting pattern book 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also looking at Barbie sets on Ebay and was so tempted.They had the original Country Camper on Ebay which I remember getting for Christmas one year and was thrilled, that obviously sewed the seeds for my love of camping and camper vans.

barbie country camper

There is a newer version as well which is fantastic, look at all the options you have here, and a pool!

barbie new camper 1

barbie new camper 2

This Sprucecrafts site has got links to ten other sites with patterns or tutorials for clothes.My favourite link out of all of them is this one Craftiness is not optional, not just for the wonderful blog name but also for all of the beautiful and very simple and adaptable ideas there are here.Pictures below are from the blog.

barbie dressbarbie skirt 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also found a pattern for a little knitted shrug from this site.

barbie shrug

I am really looking forward to making some cute skirts and dresses with some of my Liberty fabric and my collection of lace, crochet and vintage embroidery. I was lucky enough to get these three new tray cloths on my charity shop trip as well and Barbie clothes will be great for using up the tiny scraps.

vintage traycloths jan all

 

I am planning to make more of the Liberty edged vintage log cabin blocks as below with these as well as eventually I would like enough to make a quilt.

vintage-log-cabin-block-11

I think it would look really cute to try and make some skirts for the dolls with the embroidery on the bottom using the tray cloth designs. If I can make it work for a whole jacket I should be able to do it for some Barbie skirts!

vintage traycloths jan 4

 

Progress on the Steampunk Vampire hunter outfit is going well, I finished embellishing the hat and umbrella some weeks ago and have bought some new lace gloves and the black skirt in the same design as the red and purple ones.

I am really looking forward to Whitby next weekend, not only is it a chance to spend time with Ellie. Kerry and James but I can’t wait to see all the lovely outfits that everyone is wearing there.

I was very pleased, after fruitless hours of searching on Ebay for bottles and printable labels, to find this gorgeous perfume bottle that I am going to use as a holy water bottle. It was in a local shop for the bargain sum of £2 🙂 Isn’t it beautiful? I am going to hang it from my belt.

steampunk whitby holy water bottle 1

steampunk whitby holy water bottle 2

I will take lots of photos for you and be back soon with those. Meanwhile have a lovely week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Take one little house…..

I had some lovely walks when I was in Spain, the sky was so blue and I spent many happy hours just wandering around, looking at the lovely plants and admiring all the creativity of the house owners who have modified their properties.

I wrote about some of the different styles of newer builds in this post last year but what I like doing the most is seeing how people have adapted the smaller, older houses. It is amazing walking down a street where no two houses are the same. I wonder what would happen in the UK if we did the same here to our rows of terraces? It helps that there has been very little in the way of planning laws here and it is only now that people have to get permission for modifications.

spain modified houses 2

These houses were built about 30 years ago and like mine started off as small terraces, single story with one or two bedrooms as in the picture above. I think part of the reason for all the creativity is that a lot of people who live there are retired and they have the time and energy to do a complete remodel.

My aunt and uncle bought a small house on a large plot and over the next 25 years extended it to over double its size, doing most of the work themselves.My aunt has just sold that house and is moving to a lovely new one just the other side of the secret garden that I posted about here.

These terraced houses are limited by plot size so most developments are upwards but what amazes me is all the different styles. A popular one is the traditional Spanish/Mexican adobe, there are quite a few of these and they look very different with their very ornate brickwork and lovely windows.

spain modified houses 1

The one above is just up the road from me and I have watched as over the years more and more has been added, they must have an amazing view from the roof terrace.This one below has gorgeous windows and iron work.

Or if that doesn’t appeal you could go for French chic, this lovely little pink house is just across the street from the last one and would not look out of place on the Riviera.

spain modified houses 7

Terraces are a big feature of most builds and these people clearly love their outdoor space.I can just see a barbecue on the roof and that must be lovely on summer evenings.

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The larger detached houses have a lot more scope for creativity as they have space for wall embellishments, terraces and even towers. You can go Tuscan if you wish as in this lovely example complete with vine covered terraces.

spain modified houses 9

Tiles are always a feature and I love this tiled mini tower on the house next door to the Tuscan one, reminiscent of the blue tiled roofs of the churches here.

spain modified houses 10

We also saw some amazing large houses when we took our trip to the beach I showed you pictures of in the last post. It was this place, La Zenia, that changed my mind about Spain. Up until then I had not thought of it as a place to live but seeing beautiful houses like these just next to the beach really inspired  me.

spain large houses 1

Sadly I can’t afford anything like this and it would be far too big for me anyway but I am looking for inspiration for when I move to Spain full time as I will have a little bit of re-modelling done on the terrace with a new wall and built in barbecue and I love these tiled balustrades on the house next door to the one above.

spain large houses 2

I also really want one of these Poinsettia trees that I saw everywhere, I love these flowers and usually have them in the house at Christmas so would really like to plant some in place of my very overgrown cacti!

spain poinsettia tree 1

I have not been able to do much sewing this week as I have had a small operation which has meant that my left arm has been a bit painful. I am working on my blog giveaway gift and really enjoying stitching that, especially as one of my favourite Netflix programmes has just released a new season so I have been happily watching Grace and Frankie while I stitch. They have a beach house that is amazing so I have added this to my list of places in world that I want to visit, look at that for a location!

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grace-and-frankie-on-netflix-beach-house outside

I love the house interior as well, this is the stage set but it is modelled on the real house. That is the most gorgeous view.

gracefrankie-home-inside

I am planning a quiet rest of the weekend, we have had a little snow here but no disruption thankfully, all the jobs are done for the weekend so I can just sit and sew 🙂

I hope you are having a nice time and are cosy and warm, or if you like somewhere hot as a few of my bloggy friends so keeping cool. I will be back soon and will hopefully be able to give you an update on the Steampunk outfit for Whitby as that is my next project after the giveaway gift.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Back to Blighty with a bump and the giveaway winner

I hope that you all had a great festive season, I got back yesterday in pretty rough weather, there was lots of turbulence and the plane was really rocking coming down but we were only slightly delayed.

I have had a fab time and have more pictures to show you later, I have put a few of my favourites below but have really just popped in to tell you that the winner of my 11th blogaversary giveaway is Kay. I have e-mailed her to let her know but thanks so much to everyone who has commented, liked and followed this blog and sorry that I can’t make you all winners!

The weather has been pretty dreadful today with howling gales and we are forecast snow at the end of the week, oh joy! I am consoling myself by looking at my lovely beach pictures. This one is on the first day when we went down to the beach for coffee and a walk and the sunlight was just so sparkly on the water.

spain beach

We had our usual picnic lunch on New Year’s Day and I even got a little sunburnt. This yacht was out again on a very calm sea.I am sure I took pictures of the same one last year.

spain beach 2

Later in the holiday we went down the coast a bit for lunch and a walk to one of the rocky beaches, we took the kids here when they were younger and Jacob loved playing on this little island. It was a cloudier day with a magnificent sky and the waves were crashing on the rocks.

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spain beach 5

I just love the sea in all weathers and even had a little paddle on New Year’s Day, there were a few people in the sea swimming then as well and some surfers at the rocky beach.

I had a very relaxing time, doing lots of reading, very little cooking, mainly living on delicious cheeses and soup. They even had a little Christmas selection pack of some of my favourite ones in miniature which made a lovely cheeseboard.

spain cheese

I also did a couple of puzzles, this one I bought last time I went as it is of a view that Ellie and I saw when we went to the Lake District last June, a painting of Derwentwater. Lots of pieces of sky to fit in!

spain puzzle 1

There was very little crafting done so I have nothing to show you, I am starting to put together my latest Steampunk outfit for Whitby in a few weeks. I am doing a pirate outfit for one day with my purple hat from last year and a vampire hunter outfit for the other day as both seemed appropriate themes for the venue.

The vampire hunter outfit will be a modification of a beautiful red wool evening coat that I have had for years, bought originally for re-enactment. I am taking inspiration from one of my favourite films, Van Helsing with the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale and this jacket though my coat is a lot longer as this will be February in the UK so warmth will be a priority. There will also be a top hat of course so I have been searching for inspiration for that.

vampire hunter outfit

Back to work tomorrow so it will be next weekend before anything serious can be done on that but the top hat will be started tonight.

I hope that you all have a good week ahead, take care and thanks for visiting.